“Google It” ……..is maybe even more powerful than you think!

I am constantly amazed at the brains behind Google. I can’t tell you how many times I “Google It” or tell people in my life to “Google It” on a daily basis….. Since its launch in 1998, Google has become much more than just a search engine – there is even a definition in the Dictionary! (I Googled It….) It is useful for everything from advanced tech support for the IT in my life to diagnosing the mystery illness that my plant has contracted. Information is literally at the tip of my fingers and results are delivered in seconds (well sometimes even 19, 900, 000 results in 0.33 seconds!). But – there is so much more to Google than just performing a basic internet search. As parents, educators and clinicians working with people with disabilities there might be a hidden and very useful side to Google that you are unaware of! Here are some of my favourites – in no particular order – they are all great!

  • Google Images – I’m sure many of you are aware of and using the Google Image search to search for photos and images of just about anything on the net. But are you aware of the Advanced Image Search? Not only can you find images with words that match a variety of search parameters but you can filter the search by size, colour and file type. Perhaps what is most useful though is that you can filter the search by usage rights to ensure you only get access to images that are free to use or share, even commercially if needed. This will certainly help to put any copyright worries aside.
  • When you search for a term in Google on the left hand side is where you can refine the search for different categories – such as videos, books, blogs and more. This can save you a heap of time. Now you may be aware of this already (yawn yawn I hear you say) but did you know that there is an “app” category? I didn’t! So, if I type in a title of an app and refine it using this link it will only give me pages related to the app – very useful!
  • Google Play is a central way to search for hundreds of thousands of Android apps for your mobile device. It also has a filter to search for free or purchasable apps, a safe search feature and a sorting feature.
  • The Google Toolbar is a way to have instant access to the brains of Google whilst on any page, when you start typing your search you’ll see instant suggestions for what you might be looking for. It also has a drop down button where you can refine your search to types of entries such as maps, videos and images directly from the toolbar. And it searches the entire web, and if you get a webpage that is in a different language, no problem – just take up Google’s offer to translate it for you – amazing.
  • Google Scholar is a great way of searching for evidence based articles, books and abstracts – any scholarly research. You can then locate the complete document through your library or on the web – now there are no excuses for performing that lit search or finding that article to justify your practice.
  • Google Reader is a super useful tool for keeping track of the many blogs and websites you are interested in. Rather than having a list of websites and blogs that you need to check individually on daily or weekly basis, new articles and posts get collated into your very own page – so the new stuff comes to you instead of you having to find it!

I’m sure there are so many more great ideas out there – I’d love to hear them if you’re willing to share!

Thanks to Charlene Cullen for her tips with this article – she loves Google too!

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About Katie Lyon

Katie is a speech pathologist and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) consultant who has been working with young children and adults with complex communication needs for the past 13 years. She has had worked in various roles including Coordinator of the Non-electronic Communication Aid Scheme and Regional Communication Service in Victoria as part of the state-wide Communication Access Network. She has a keen interest in supporting families, teachers, direct support workers and therapists to access information about AAC and assistive technology through education and training. She currently works part-time with Spectronics and part-time with the Communication Resource Centre at Scope in Victoria.

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